No longer science fiction
Schubert develops cooperative robots to take on packaging tasks
Computers and robots are becoming increasingly intelligent. Industrial robots without a safety area, known as cobots, can carry out simple tasks. It’s no wonder that Schubert is already working on its first cobot. As a robot technology trailblazer in the packaging sector, the company built the world’s first packaging robot back in 1981. Schubert continues to use only its own robots in its TLM machines.
On its own, a cobot cannot solve a packaging task. The cobots available on the market from Universal, Kuka, Fanuc, ABB and other robot manufacturers are far from being ideally suited to many packaging tasks. Many of them are too slow and cannot be stopped safely at high speeds or when in contact with a human. Not a problem for Schubert. When the market has been unable to provide a solution, the company has always relied on in-house development. “We enjoy breaking new ground and going our own way. That is why we are currently working on our first cobot, called tog.519,” says Ralf Schubert, Managing Director and Shareholder of Gerhard Schubert GmbH. The tog.519 robot is designed for pick & place tasks and for separating lightweight products.
A typical task, for example, is placing pouches in the cartoner’s chain. This would otherwise require one or two people to take the pouches out of the box and place them in the chain. The tog.519 recognizes the pouches even if they are lying one on top of another, and identifies the chain pitches in which to place them.
Schubert’s cobot is fast and does not require guard doors. It slows down when someone get close to it and stops safely before coming into contact with people. This makes it a cooperative robot in fact, rather than a collaborative robot.
The tog.519 in test operation
By the end of 2019, some customers will already be using the tog.519 to conduct test runs. “The decisive advantage for our customers is that the cobot can be commissioned very easily,” says Ralf Schubert. “We supply all the components for the full cobot system: a small container, an infeed conveyor and the cooperative robot. Our customers can use a special app to commission their cobots without the need to program them.”
“We will be presenting our cobot for the first time at the interpack 2020 fair,” says Ralf Schubert. Further collaborative or cooperative robots could be developed to follow the tog.519, such as robots for heavier weights and potentially also for automatically loading magazines with blanks.
Ralf Schubert is quite certain: “Our togs are getting increasingly smarter. It will only be a matter of time before smart cobots will be able to train themselves to carry out packaging tasks.”
- Full system with controller for robot, image processing and peripherals (e.g. infeed conveyors)
- Output: 80 cycles per minute
- Product weight under 700 grams
- 5 NC axes, decentralised servo module
- Cameras for image processing integrated into the robot
- No programming for image processing, learns through artificial intelligence
- Able to reach into the case (bin picking)
- Space-saving and easy to position in the production environment
- Easy to program and commission robots and peripherals
- Price of the full cobot system less than 90,000 euros
- Cloud connection possible
- Setting up bottles and putting them in pucks
- Placing products into boxes
- Unstacking trays
- Placing pouches into a cartoner chain
- Separating parts such as covers and pumps from shampoo bottles
- Correcting the position and alignment of products
- Monitoring product quality and discarding imperfect products
- Simple implementation tasks